Somber gatherings mark 5th anniversary of Haiti earthquake

Updated: 2015-01-13 10:30


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Martelly spoke on the northern outskirts of Port-au-Prince, where he and the first lady placed white flowers before a large chunk of rubble set on a concrete pedestal. The site is being developed as a memorial for those who lost their lives.

The government has said more than 300,000 people were killed but the exact toll is unknown because there was no systematic effort to count bodies amid the chaos and destruction.

Carine Joiceus, a 24-year-old customs worker who attended the memorial Mass in Bel Air, had to have one of her arms amputated near the shoulder after she was pinned by falling rubble at a university. She has since had two children and says she has learned to live with her disability.

"I remember just crying the first year after it happened," Joiceus said. "But since then, I'm moving ahead with my life and thinking of the future. "

For the country as a whole, the recovery has been uneven.

The United Nations says Haiti has received more than 80 percent of about $12.45 billion pledged by more than 50 countries and multilateral agencies since the disaster, a combination of humanitarian assistance, recovery aid and disaster relief. Parts of the capital are awash in new construction and the number of people in dismal tent camps has dropped from around 1.5 million after the quake to around 80,000.

But Haiti also remains a desperately poor country facing many of the same challenges as before the earthquake. The World Bank says more than 6 million out of roughly 10.4 million inhabitants live under the national poverty line of $2.44 per day.


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